A lot of time when I speak with potential customers I have to tell them that we need to arrange a consultation and sometimes the look on their face is quite confused.
So what is a tattoo consultation? A tattoo consultation is a meeting between the tattoo artist and the customer, in order to establish the tattoo design, style, size and all the other details. Usually at this point in time a deposit or a booking fee is paid to the artist to secure the tattoo appointment.
I have seen it a lot of times when people come in for a consultation and don’t known what to expect or are unprepared as some of them might have never had a tattoo before. So now I will explain everything that happens in a tattoo consultation.
What Happens In A Tattoo Consultation
Usually I ask my customers to come into the studio for a consultation on a day of the week that I set aside for consultations and to take bookings. Most of the times I will try to ask the customers 3-10 days before the proposed date of the tattoo session, so that on the day of the tattoo sessions, the details and what was talked about in the consultation is still fresh in my mind.
I usually take 1-2 hours for a consultation about a bigger tattoo, as I want to known as much as possible about the customer and what their vision is for their next project.
These are the questions that most tattoo artists will ask during this meeting:
1. What would you like?
Most of the times customers will have an idea in mind of what they would like, and also they might bring references (photos) of certain ideas and styles. As a tattoo artist, we won’t want to copy other artists work, but these references will help us understand what the customer is looking for as a design and also what styles he prefers.
If the tattoo is going to be a portrait of a person or pet, we would ask to bring as many high quality (preferably digital) photos for us to choose together which one would look the best as a tattoo.
2. Where on your body would you like your tattoo?
Placement is very important for a tattoo to look great, but is also helps dictate the size. The bigger the tattoo, the more details we can include in your tattoo, thus making it more intricate and more appealing as a piece of body art.
For example: A design that is best suited horizontal might look better on the back or chest, and we would probably recommend against getting it on the calf. Same thing works with a tattoo design that is wider at the bottom, we would probably recommend against placing it on the forearm, as the shape of most people’s forearms is quite the opposite (wider at the top and narrower at the bottom).
3. Is this tattoo a cover up?
We would obviously need to known if you are looking for a tattoo cover-up, as this might restrict some of the styles of designs that can be tattooed to make the cover-up and effective one.
Also, at this point we might have to trace the tattoo on chalk paper and also see the space we have around the tattoo.
Any scarring tissue will also be examined at this point in time, to ensure that it’s fully healed, and how serious it is.
4. What other tattoos do you have in that area?
We might want to known what other tattoos you have in the area where you are looking to get your next tattoo, so that we can either incorporate it with the others, or maybe match the style and colors.
All this is to ensure that your next project has a nice flow to it and doesn’t just look like some tattoos were thrown in there.
5. What style of tattoos do you like?
With so many styles of tattooing, we might have a look at different styles of tattooing and help you in choosing one for your next project. At this point, we might also advise what looks best and also let you known, in case you are not familiar with our preferred style or what we specialize in. Don’t be discouraged if your tattoo artist is specialized in one style and you prefer another, as most artists can tattoo most styles.
6. Are you vegan?
Although more and more tattoo studios are going vegan friendly, if the tattoo studio you are going to is not yet part of the vegan community, you might want to let them known, so that they can check and order any new supplies or consumables that might not be on your liking.
Although my tattoo studio is vegan friendly, I still ask all my customers, as I would also want to suggest a vegan tattoo aftercare that I have tried and tested. Vegan tattoo aftercare kits are a bit more pricey, and non vegan customers might not feel happy if I recommend a more expensive aftercare cream If they are not interested in the benefits.
7. Do you have any allergies I should known about?
In order for us to execute a tattoo, we have to use quite a few solutions and creams, but also your skin will come in contact with quite a few materials.
If you are allergic to anything that is being used in the tattooing process, this gives us time to research and order alternatives.
8. Are you on any prescribed medication?
Sometimes I find out that people are on prescribed medication, or have medical conditions that might not make them suitable for a tattoo at that moment in time,
This is why I would rather known all the details before booking somebody in and later to find out that they might not be suited for a tattoo, or they are on blood thinning medication.
9. Would you like me to book you in?
At this point, most of the details have been talked about and agreed, and both the customer and myself have a clear vision of what we will be doing in the next time we meet.
This is also the point where I would ask for a non-refundable booking fee. This means that once we have agreed on a certain time and date for the session, the customer will be obliged to come and get the tattoo we just talked about.
Some studios might ask for a deposit and might also agree to move your appointment if something comes up, whilst other tattoo studios will ask for a non-refundable booking fee that gets taken of the price of your tattoo sitting.
I always ask at least 3 times my customers if they are sure that they can make it on the day of their appointment and explain that I don’t want to lose that tattooing time, and would also not like for him to lose his/hers deposit, especially if it’s a full day sitting. If the customer doesn’t show up, this means I lost a full days work and have a few dollars or euros to make up for it.
I sometimes wonder what makes a tattoo more upset: the fact that the customer wasted his time and he didn’t make any money, or the fact that he designed a cool tattoo and doesn’t have the chance to put on the skin?
10. Do you have any questions?
At this point I always make sure that all the customers questions have been answered and double check. In case anything slipped my mind or the customer forgot to ask me, I will always ask again, just to make sure.
I also start advising the customer on how to prepare for a tattoo, just to make his tattoo session as enjoyable as possible.
Do You Have To Be 18 For A Tattoo Consultation?
Depending on where you are from, it might be illegal to get tattooed unless you are 18 years old or over.
For example in the UK it is against the law to tattoo any person under 18 years old with or without the consent of parents or legal guardian. Although this is a well known fact and there are signs all over the tattoo studio this doesn’t stop people from asking us every other week.
If your 18th birthday is right before the tattoo appointment you are planning, then we have no problems having a tattoo consultation in order to establish what that tattoo will be about, and we also do not require a consent on your behalf at that point as the tattooing session will be after you are 18 years of age.
We do however ask for a parent or legal guardian to be present at all times of the consultation, especially if your tattoo will be on the sternum, thigh or other sensitive areas.
If your tattoo will be on the wrist for example, we won’t ask for a parent or legal guardian to be present.
How Much Is A Tattoo Deposit?
This depends on the tattoo studio, and there are no clear guidelines regarding the deposits taken for a tattoo session.
Most studios will usually ask for up to 50% deposit for smaller projects and will reduce the percentage for bigger projects.
Also ask what the tattoo studio policy is regarding refunds, cancellations or moving the appointment, as each and every tattoo studio has a different policy.
Some tattoo studios might charge you a Booking Fee and usually the booking fees are NON-refundable and unmovable, as Booking Fees are a product in itself rather than a deposit. Think of it like an admin fee, but usually studios offer to take it off the price of your tattoo session as a reward that you showed up and got the tattoo appointment through.
Tattoo Consultation Etiquette
Usually the tattoo consultation etiquette is the same as a tattoo appointment. You do not require to be dressed in a certain way, but if you want your thigh tattooed, you might consider coming in shorts rather than tight jeans, as the tattoo artist will have to look at the area that will be tattooed. This is usually to check for moles, skin conditions and other aspects of the skin.
You will also be expected not to bring pets or children, especially if the children are known to misbehave and the tattoo artist can’t have your full attention. Plus pets are illegal in a tattoo studio for health and safety reasons.
Also, please ensure you are not being expected elsewhere as a tattoo consultation can not be rushed. You will have to try to be as clear and as specific with the tattoo artist as possible in regard to the details of your tattoo.
Another quite common nuisance in a tattoo studio is when 2 people walk in for the consultation, and when the tattoo artist starts asking questions in relation to the details of the tattoo that will get done, it’s always the person NOT getting tattooed that answers or starts acting like they known better than the tattoo artist.
This makes the process very difficult, as the person answering should be the person getting tattooed and that person only.
Do tattoos hurt? Depending on the area that is getting tattooed, some areas are more painful than others. However, to have a rough idea of the pain, if you are getting tattooed on the wrist (one of the least sore areas), most people would describe it as a cat scratch or a burning sensation.
Can a tattoo consultation be done via email? Most tattoo artists will refuse this as it would make the process quite lengthy and the artist would still not be able to be 100 percent sure of the skin he will be tattooing.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.